Former Israeli President Katsav convicted of rape
JERUSALEM: An Israeli court on Thursday convicted former President Moshe Katsav of rape, in the most serious charges ever to be leveled against a high-ranking Israeli official.
The conviction on two counts of rape of a former employee means the 65-yearold Katsav will face a minimum of four years in prison. The Tel Aviv District Court also convicted him on lesser counts of indecent acts and sexual harassment involving two other women that worked for him. The court completely rejected Katsav's denials.
The verdict caps a fourand-a-half year saga that shocked the nation. The complaints were filed by four women who worked for Katsav in the 1990s when he was tourism minister. He was found guilty of raping an employee in 1998, two years before he was elected president.
Although the post in Israel is largely ceremonial, the president is head of state, representing the country at ceremonies around the world.
Katsav resigned in 2007, two weeks before his sevenyear term expired, under a plea bargain that would have required him to admit to lesser charges of sexual misconduct. He was replaced by elder statesman and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres.
But in a dramatic reversal in April 2009, Katsav rejected the deal and said he wanted to clear his name in court. Katsav contends he is innocent and a victim of a political witch hunt, implying he was a target because he represents Jews of Middle Eastern origin. For decades, Middle Eastern, or Sephardic Jews, were an underclass in Israeli society. Katsav was born in Iran and immigrated to Israel as a child. -Ap